This past month (and a half), I read a really great book about relationships and the science behind them so I thought I would bring back my book of the month series for it. I read the book The Chemistry Between Us by Larry Young and Brian Alexander as I mentioned in my March Favorites.
This book discusses a few aspects of relationships, right down to the science of it. A few topics the authors focused on were how our sexual brain actually functions and why, why we want to have sex, why mother’s care for their children, and why we cheat on our partners. The authors went over A LOT of animal studies, as well as a few human studies to prove their points which was really interesting to read about. It’s shocking how similar human sexual brain function is to mice, voles, and even leeches.
Our sexual brain function mainly comes down to oxytocin but also includes a few other brain chemicals such as vasopressin and dopamine. Obviously, our sexual hormones play a major role also, but according to this book, it’s really oxytocin that makes us do all the crazy (and not so crazy) things we do for love (or sex). It’s the oxytocin in our brains that make us trust our partners, care for our children and ultimately become “addicted” to our partners.
The most interesting part of the book for me, personally, was learning about monogamy versus infidelity in nature and in human relationships. I learned that in nature, social relationships (partner bonded/monogamous relationships) and sexual relationships are completely separate brain functions and the same goes for humans. As an intelligent species, we’ve learned to actually lump the two together, but in reference to our evolution, they are not the same at all. This explains why some people are more prone to cheat on their partners.
There were quite a few startling statistics in this book, but one of the most interesting to me, was that 30-40% of married couples have had extra-marital sex. In non-marital, monogamous relationships, about 50% of people had sex outside their relationship. That’s a lot of people. And humans are not the only species to cheat on their partners. In nature, almost every species that has monogamy, also has a few that will cheat on their partners even in the most monogamous of animals species such as prairie voles.
I think this book was such an interesting, albeit tough, read. There’s lots of science terms but it’s balanced out with real life examples and mild humor. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to learn about how the brain works, and anyone who wants to learn a little bit more about relationships, in a non-self-help kind of way.
I hope you enjoyed! xx
P.S. Keep up with me on instagram: @karenmauritzenn